The Renaissance in Florence conjures images of beautiful frescoes and elegant buildings – the dazzling handiwork of the city’s artists and architects. But equally important were geniuses of another kind: Florence’s manuscript hunters, scribes, scholars and booksellers. At a time where all books were made by hand, these people helped imagine a new and enlightened world.
At the heart of this activity was a remarkable bookseller: Vespasiano da Bisticci. His books were works of art in their own right, copied by talented scribes and illuminated by the finest miniaturists. With a client list that included popes and royalty, Vespasiano became the ‘king of the world’s booksellers’.
But by 1480 a new invention had appeared: the printed book, and Europe’s most prolific merchant of knowledge faced a formidable new challenge.
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